The MMORPG community is still reeling over the one-two punch of announced cancellations of Warhammer Online and Ultima X: Odyssey. The team over at HomeLAN spoke to EA's Aaron Cohen about the termination of the latter game. Excerpts follow:
HomeLAN - First, how long had Ultima X: Odyssey been in development before the decision was made to cancel the game?
Aaron Cohen - The game had been in development for close to two years.
HomeLAN - The decision was made earlier this year to close down the Origin offices in Austin, Texas. How much did this move affect the development of the game?
Aaron Cohen - Development didn't slow significantly after the move because we added several members of the Redwood Shores studio to the UXO development team.
HomeLAN - Has there been any thought given to simply replacing Ultima Online with an all new revamp of the original game?
Aaron Cohen - We are constantly looking at ways to improve, polish and enhance the game. However, there are no plans to replace the current game with a revamp the original game.
Many would raise a few eyebrows at these answers, but none is more curious than this response:
HomeLAN - Ultimately, what was the main reason for the decision to cancel the game?
Aaron Cohen - We decided to focus our resources in Ultima Online. The enthusiastic response to the Ultima Online 7th Anniversary Edition and the upcoming expansion pack convinced us to devote all our energy and resources to that game and that community.
This response is strangely reminiscent of EA's stated reason for the cancellation of Ultima Worlds Online: Origin (aka UO2) back in 2001:
After evaluating the futures and potential of both Ultima Online and ORIGIN, Electronic Arts and Origin Systems have made the decision to increase their focus on Ultima Online by halting production of UWO: ORIGIN (UO2). Rather than create ORIGIN as a parallel world competing with Ultima Online, many resources that would have been required to complete ORIGIN will instead be refocused into Ultima Online, making sure that we can expand and support it for some time to come.
Many criticized the original decision that EA decided to scrap a new title to focus on a (then) 4 year old game. Now UO is 7 and, while still a viable persistent world, is definitely showing its age. Cynics may have a hard time accepting this reason for the abandonment of the project, but, nevertheless, Cohen states that this was the issue that brought down the axe on such a promising title.
For those of you keeping score, it's Ultima Online: 2, Other Ultima-based MMORPGs: 0